Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Let me tell you about my best friend

Wherein I generally agree but also wish to postulate that I always found Shirley Jones' character to be a little too clingy and desperate

Jaime J. Weinman at Something Old, Something New discusses his views of feminism and double standards all resulting from The Courtship of Eddie's Father. To quote:
So from that one scene in that movie, I started to understand the concept of double standards and all those other things that we'd made fun of in high school: it made sense, because that movie was a snapshot of 1963 cultural norms (I'd seen enough pop culture from the same era to know it wasn't an outlier in its attitude toward women; it was just a little more obvious about it), and it was casually assuming that what men take for granted should not be available to women. I understood, in a way that I hadn't before, why there was a need for that "national movement" that Ford scoffs at as an impossibility.

Ever since then, I've always had an appreciation for movies and other works of art and popular culture that treat women the way Dina Merrill wanted to be treated in Eddie's Father -- as being defined by something other than their relationship to romantic partners or children. But works like that are hard to find. Women characters are usually defined by their relationship to men; whether it's a play/movie like The Women or a show like Sex and the City, you'll usually find that the female characters spend most of their time thinking and talking about men. Women are usually portrayed as having a job, but the job never really seems to matter much to who they are, the way the male character is defined by his job as a cop or a robber or a doctor or a lawyer or an Indian chief. The idea that a woman just is who or what she is, rather than somebody's wife or girlfriend or mother, is as foreign as it was in 1963, even though things are obviously better now than in 1963 (feminism has made it possible for single career women to go on TV and talk about how feminists ruined everything).

Interesting stuff, read the rest. He doesn't offer a lot of examples for the following question. Help him out:
Are there movies and TV shows that I consider really feminist in that admittedly limited sense -- the sense of portraying female characters who are defined indepdendently of their romantic and maternal relationships?

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